As part of a daily routine (if you can call it that) I check out all the blogs on my blogroll. I’m not one of those who put massive amounts of sites there. I see it more as a way of recommending reading to visitors of my site. Some of them are friends, some of them are just blogs that I have found while jumping around the Internet.
Well, getting to the point, one site I read all the time (other than my friends Craig’s and Roberta’s sites) is Towleroad. And today has been the first time I have read it and cringed. While I made comments to that effect on the comment section of his site I felt I needed to express them here too.
For some background you’ll probably need to read the story at his site: Gay Book Burning a Coincidence. But in short, someone set fire to a whole bunch of books in a Chicago State Library, they were in the gay and lesbian section (and the African-American section), we all jumped to the conclusion that it was a hate crime (I say we, cause you know it could have been, and I was in there believing it), turns out it was a homeless woman acting out because she wasn’t allowed to sleep in the Library. She chose a section of the library that was out of the way so she wouldn’t be seen. Andy Towle says she’s not a homophobe, but still calls her a “loser” and then in the comments section it is decided that she’s not so much a loser but mentally ill.
Yoiks people, maybe I missed something in one of the articles but I didn’t see anything that said she was declared (self-assessed or otherwise) as mentally ill. The woman is homeless, and no, living in a shelter does not constitute having a home, she was acting out against treatment she saw as unjust. That doesn’t make her mentally ill… hell gay pride marches aren’t just a party, they started as, and still are an act on our behalf to stand up for who we are. We didn’t always get public permits in the early days of the marches, we just took to the streets and took on the cars (I say we, but I don’t mean me… the movement was well underway here in Australia before I could walk or talk), it was an act of public defiance and a stand against the injustice we felt.
Erica’s act, while misplaced, may not have been anything less. Homeless, the world over, are pushed aside and out of the way. We step around them and over them without even looking at them, they are part of the furniture in our cities, and while I am not a fan of victim mentality, some of them see themselves as victims of a society that passed them by. A society that has taken everything they had and spit them out. In these modern times, now there’s a phrase that dates real fast, everything is disposable, even we the people.
But remember always, the person you step over, or cross the street to avoid, is still a human being. They deserve acknowledgment and respect just like you.
For a good look at the faces of a tiny group of these people I thoroughly recommend a look at The Snowsuit Effort.